Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Monday, May 03, 2004

Mental Penis

Scott's beautiful painting fell off the wall and smashed the thermostat. Crap. Well, I might as well do repairs that I've been putting off forever. Like, I haven't had a key to my own doorknob for over a year. Actually, it might be two years.

Two days later, I strap on my mental penis and march over to Home Depot... and then end up going to Lowe's because I'm too afraid to make a left across Bobby Jones. Maybe the penis needs new batteries (ha ha...oh, nevermind).

Sales Associate: So, what can I do you for?
Me (To begin with, you can stop using that phrase): My thermostat broke and I need to replace it.
Sales Associate: Sure. We offer installation services. Let me get -
Me (interrupting politely): Oh, no, I'm going to do it myself.
Sales Associate (pausing, as though about to broach a delicate subject): Do you know how?
Consulting my mental penis...
Me: Yes.
I don't think I convinced him. Probably because I lied.
Sales Associate: Well, if you're sure...
Me: (with a confidence I do not feel): i'm just looking for a recommendation on a specific model.

There is a brief discussion on what kind of system I have. He asks a few questions and I make up answers that I hope are right. I think he's just feeling me out to see how much I know. It begins to irritate me. I KNOW that I'm an idiot. He doesn't need to prove it to me.

Really, it's just a normal electrical system with gas heat. Four wires. Two hands. One thermostat.
Yeah, touch my penis.
Sales Associate: Cool. Well, I think you can take your pick, then, as long as you don't get a heat pump system. I suggest a digital one. They offer a lot more control.
Me ($60! I only need that much control in my pantyhose); Well, the $8 twisty-knob one (twisty knob? Why did you even bring the penis?!) is looking pretty good.

I skip home to put it in. The old one pops right off. I open the new box.

What the fuck is this?

Three telephone calls and a day later, the thermostat is in a bag going back to the store. (sigh) I think I need a real penis.

I return to Lowe's. I need a thermostat, but the mental penis didn't work. I decide to pull out the big guns: the twins. Thank god I'm wearing a vee-neck t-shirt.

Me (after returning the first model): So, the last sales associate sold me a thermostat for a baseboard system, but I have a standard floor system with gas heat.
Sales Associate: Do you have a heat pump?
Heat pump? Oh, god. Lean forward! That always works! Look contemplative. No, smile! Uh...
Me: What do you think? Do I have a heat pump?
What. The fuck. Are you doing. You are an affront to all women.
Sales Associate (thinking hard about the wall of thermostats in front of us): Um, well, probably not. They're used more often up north.
Hey! Over here! Boobies!
Me (nodding like I even know what states are up north): Mmmm.
Sales Associate (reaching for two models - but not mine): I'd recommend a digital thermometer.
Good god, these are pricey. I could get breast implants for this - oh, wait, I don't need them.
Me: I don't need digital. I like something I can put my hands on.
Good christ. How did you even graduate college?
Sales Associate (leaving): Oh, well, just try this one. Should be great. Good luck!
He'd better be gay.

I go home (to a man always willing to look at my breasts). Open the box. Looking good. Wires and places to put wires. I have four wires. It has four - hey, why are there six places to put wires?!


Two electrocutions and a near-decapitation later, I'm out of ideas. The places where I think the wires are supposed to go already have wires. The number of wires outnumber the remaining places to put wires. I am struggling to screw a part of it to the wall when, for no discernable reason, the thermastat snaps into three pieces in my hands.

I fume. It must be Lowe's fault. Sexist Lowe's. Sexist and gay Lowe's.

I return the thermostat. And go to Home Depot. I make the left across Bobby Jones without the penis.

I find a female sales associate and we look at thermostats together. I hate them all. She agrees that men designed them, we joke about our collective ignorance, and then she points to a digital one. What's the obsession with these overpriced pieces of - ooh, $23? I'll take it.

My tools lain out before me at home, I open the instructions. They're entirely in Spanish, except for the last two pages on each of which is printed in English: "THIS PAGE IS BLANK." Scott and I laugh like crazy and he insists we frame it.

I connect all the wires but the red one. There's nowhere to put it! AARGH! I need it! I don't know exactly why, but when I touch the old red and green wires together, the fan comes on. It's the only reason we haven't died of heat exhaustion the last three days.

I decide to shove the old red wire in beside the other, inexplicably-already-attached red wire. There is a sputter, a clang, and then the fan begins to whir. I flip the switch. It stops.

I look at Scott. He smiles, shakes his head, and goes back to his research paper. I leap off the step stool, do a victory dance, and sing, "I have to celebrate the thermostat. I have to praise me like I shooooooooooouuulld!"


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